Module Catalogue 2016/17

PSY3002 : Evolutionary Psychology and Medicine

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Bruce Charlton
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To provide an overview and systematic understanding of Evolutionary Psychology, especially in relation to human health and Medicine

Evolutionary Psychology is the application of evolutionary biology to understanding human behaviour.

The human mind has evolved in response to selection pressures acting over many past generations, and this has shaped the way that modern humans think, behave and function.

This module combines an examination of evolutionary theories with their application to a range of health and medical themes, including psychiatric symptoms and disorders – how these may have evolved, relevance to treatment, and their possible adaptive significance.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered (1 hour lectures with informal discussion and quizzes)

•       Natural selection
•       Evolutionary Psychology
•       Evolutionary/ Darwinian medicine
•       Human ancestral environment
•       Agriculture and recent human evolution
•       Family size
•       Incest avoidance
•       Maternal instincts and infanticide
•       Breast feeding (co-sleeping)
•       Crying babies (colic)
•       Step parenting
•       The Paleolithic Diet
•       Dietary preferences – junk food
•       Disgust and hygiene
•       Hunger and satiety

1.       Sugar, diabetes and evolution
2.       Anxiety and female psychology
3.       Homicide, violence and male psychology
4.       Psychoactive drugs and drug addiction
5.       Psychological diseases and disorders of civilization (mismatch, averages, compromises)

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

- Describe the principles of evolutionary theory as they apply in human adaptation.
- Explain the ways in which evolved adaptations can interact with health and disease; especially the
problem of ‘mismatch’ between ancestral and modern environments.
- Explain the principles by which adaptation may cause or influence disease.
- Discuss the relationship between modern human psychology, as it relates to health and disorders; and
how health problems may have been caused by ancestral evolution.
- Discuss critically the implications of the evolutionary perspective as it applies to humans – in
particular to medical issues.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

- Apply information technology skills to increase depth of understanding and link to adjacent
specialized subjects, solve problems to do with understanding, and to extend basic understanding into
more specialized knowledge.
- Analyse the basis of controversies and disagreements in this field and to be able to demonstrate
comprehension of the various sides in such controversies.
- Apply the principles and information given in this course to tackle novel problems in a rational

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Written Other : Assessed
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity150:0050:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Formal lectures plus informal classroom discussions and tests present an overview and specific examples of the subject area, with reference to alternative perspectives.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A100Required to answer two questions from a choice of four
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Unseen essay examination (two questions from an open choice of four) is used to allow students to demonstrate both the accuracy and extent of their factual knowledge, and – by their organization of material – abstract systematic understanding of topics in an objective and rigorous manner.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.